Over-the-counter eardrops may cause hearing loss or damage

Jan 28, 2008

A new study, led by researchers at The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) of the MUHC, has revealed that certain over-the-counter earwax softeners can cause severe inflammation and damage to the eardrum and inner ear. The results of the study, recently published in The Laryngoscope, suggest that use of these medications should be discouraged.

“Patients often complain that wax is blocking their ears and is causing discomfort and sometimes deafness,” says Dr. Sam Daniel principal investigator of the study and director of McGill Auditory Sciences Laboratory at The Children’s. “Over-the-counter earwax softeners are used to breakup and disperse this excess wax. However, the effects of these medications on the cells of the ear had not been thoroughly analyzed.”

“Because some of these products are readily available to the public without a consultation with or prescription from a physician, it is important to make sure they are safe to use. Our study shows that in a well-established animal model, one such product, Cerumenex, is in fact, toxic to the cells of the ear,” says Dr. Daniel.

Dr. Daniel and his team studied the impact of Cerumenex on hearing. In addition, overall toxicity in the outer ear and changes in the nerve cells of the inner ear were analyzed.

“Harmful effects to many of the cells were observed after only one dose,” says Dr. Melvin Schloss co-author and MCH Director of Otolaryngology. “We observed reduced hearing, severe inflammation, and lesions to the nerve cells.”

“We believe these findings are applicable to humans,” add Dr. Daniel. “The animal model we chose has been widely used to test toxicity. In addition, this model has a very similar hearing mechanism. Overall, our findings suggest that Cerumenex has a toxic potential and it should be used with caution.”

Source: McGill University Health Centre

Explore further: Researchers developing an artificial vision system for prosthetic legs to improve gait

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers reveal how hearing evolved

Feb 06, 2015

Lungfish and salamanders can hear, despite not having an outer ear or tympanic middle ear. These early terrestrial vertebrates were probably also able to hear 300 million years ago, as shown in a new study ...

Dogs hear our words and how we say them

Nov 26, 2014

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said—those consonants and vowels strung together into words and sentences—but also to other features of that speech—the ...

Recommended for you

Many transplant surgeons suffer burnout

Feb 25, 2015

Despite saving thousands of lives yearly, nearly half of organ transplant surgeons report a low sense of personal accomplishment and 40% feel emotionally exhausted, according to a national study on transplant surgeon burnout

5 tips for handling early-year medical expenses

Feb 25, 2015

The clock on insurance deductibles reset on Jan. 1, and that means big medical bills are in store for some. Patients may be required to pay thousands of dollars before their health care coverage kicks in.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.